Featured: “An Aikido Solution to Hamas Rocket Attacks” by Corky Quakenbush

A rocket is fired from Gaza towards Israel Photo Credit: Reuters

A rocket is fired from Gaza towards Israel
Photo Credit: Reuters

As an Aikido practitioner, I always look at conflict from a perspective that includes the principles of aiki.  Of particular interest to me is how the principles of Aikido can be manifested in government and international relations.  One issue that screams out for the principles of nonviolent conflict resolution is the Israel Palestine conflict.Recently, rockets fired from the Palestinian Territories have rained down on Israel.

Aikido is meant to deal with deadly attack so this should be a condition that is ripe for the application of Aikido principles to help bring about a lasting peace. The answer is really quite simple and easy to institute. But for fear, peace could be created in a matter of days, if not hours, after the initial rocket attacks.

To be fair, this solution, though effective and simple and as easy as it really is, may face difficulty in being executed. Most people involved in conflict resolution view the process as achieving peace when the opposition relents and finally agrees with them. The inability or lack of desire of most people to practice an art of conflict resolution in which satisfaction for all parties involved is the main priority, reflects the self-preserving nature of ego, whether expressed by an individual or by a group.  The ego intentions of individuals or groups of like-minded individuals often reflect the desire to win, if not to have more than one’s adversary at the end of the interaction, reflecting a loss of something of the adversary, then to have what one desires despite the desires of the adversary.When an individual or group wants to come out ahead at the expense of the other, it is impossible to operate in a state in which aiki will manifest from the actions of that individual or group.

Aikido requires selflessness to work as it is intended.  For many, this kind of selfless approach is foreign and frightening.

A Palestinian youth walks through a crater after an Israeli air strike in a residential neighborhoos in Gaza. Photo Credit: Getty Images

A Palestinian youth walks through a crater after an Israeli air strike in a residential neighborhood in Gaza. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Reflecting on the requirement of selflessness, the fear of it is largely the idea that selflessness means subjugation to the other party. However, any solution that requires one to “lose” is not a manifestation of aiki, as true aiki never creates a winner and a loser.   Therefore the aiki answer does not include “losing” to create peace.

If Aiki is present, neither party will feel disadvantaged in any way.

This may sound strange when compared to the way Aikido looks when an attacker ends his action on the ground, but when Aikido manifests out of beneficent intention, the attacker does not feel defeated by this path to the floor, but taken care of.  The connective properties of ki expressed to another naturally feel good to both participants, even in the midst of the physical expression of an attack.

In our Aiki-Lab practice, we work from ukemi.  That is, uke’s attack is meant to energetically pierce the central core of nage and continue to do so throughout the interaction.  Practicing this way instead of by technique emulation gives one a wholly different perspective of how much we, as nages, get into the way of aiki manifesting because of our fear responses.

In our Aiki-Lab way of practicing, the only thing that is going to produce an aiki-resolution (what others might call a fall or throw) is if uke continues his authentic attack energy flow to nage’s center and if nage does not counter attack, defend, or withdraw, but rather responds from a place of beneficent intention, thereby creating a flow of energy that supports uke as uke follows his attack’s path to the ground.

One of the things we learn from this kind of practice is that the greatest connective properties of a flood of ki from nage to uke is inclusiveness.  The sincere attitude of “we’re in this together” creates an energetic bond between partners that is deeply satisfying, and it gives the attacker the ability to give up the attack without repercussions.

Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei performing irimi or the principle of "entering".

Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei performing Irimi or the principle of “entering”.

In the practice of Aikido there is also a principle of “entering.”  In one sense it pertains to the movement of irimi, or moving into a close proximity that makes it bio-mechanically impossible for the attack to have an impact.  But in another way it means to take action as soon as the intention to attack is forming in the mind of the attacker.  Since the goal is not to win but to unify, the entering is not about taking an early advantage but about addressing the problem before it develops into something more destructive.

With those two principles in place we can see an instant solution to the rocket attacks.  The rocket attacks from Hamas originate in detectable positions but rain down randomly upon Israel.  Since the Israeli defenses know where the rockets are coming from, Hamas populates the area with civilians, making counter attacks from Israel fall inevitably on non-combatants.

This practice puts Israel in an unfortunate position from a military perspective because it will have to kill innocent civilians in order to take out the rocket launching positions.   The Palestinian death rate is far greater than that of Israel’s thereby making Israel’s response look overbearing and promoting greater animosity toward Israel by the Palestinian populace (outside of Hamas).

If the population of Israel could operate within the principles of Aikido as expressed through the properties of entering and inclusion, they would put an end to the rocket barrage in a day and actually make the steps toward lasting peace from a solid foundation.

The way this would be accomplished is by opening the borders and sincerely welcoming Palestinians into their land, into their homes and businesses, and into their lives.  This cannot work if the attitude motivating this action is anything but inclusiveness, that is, Palestinians must be treated as guests and as family.  When the population of Palestine is completely commingled with Israelis in Israel, any rocket launched by Hamas would be landing on Palestinians as well as Israelis.

With sincere intention that peace be attained without winner or loser, the heartfelt desire to share would bring these so-called Palestinian “human shields” into shields against aggression.  Should Hamas be seen as indiscriminately killing fellow Palestinian countrymen, women and children of their own in their pursuits of an overthrow of Israel, their support among Palestinians would disappear and they would be seen to be ineffective at best and more likely detrimental to the Palestinians as a whole.

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Aikido.

From an economical perspective, it is far less costly to host new friends than it is to fund a standing army always ready for battle at moment’s notice.  The social cost of learning to appreciate the differences between cultures is far less than the pain of coping with constant fear of the other.

By transcending fear, trust comes about naturally.

In Aikido we find that entering with an open heart, rather than making one vulnerable, as the ego would have us believe, gives the Aikido practitioner unfathomable power to bring about the nonviolent solution.  This courage, practiced by the good and loving people of Israel, will reverberate throughout the Middle East, and if they can, in the face of onslaught, maintain their openness and inclusive attitude in the hopes that Israelis and Arabs, who share the same basic needs as all human cousins, will be satisfied in equality, they will be loved as brothers and sisters throughout the world, and peace will come quickly and with minimal cost.


This article was submitted exclusively to Aikido no Sekai by Corky Quakenbush Sensei. All rights reserved. You can also submit Aikido or Peace related articles to Aikido no Sekai via email: aikidonosekai@gmail.com.

corky quakenbush aikidoCorky Quakenbush Sensei

In December 14 1983 (O’Sensei’s 100th birthday), Corky Sensei, based in Los Angeles, California, began practicing Aikido. Initially a student in the Mitsugi Saotome Sensei’s lineage (Aikido Schools of Ueshiba) and then in Koichi Tohei’s lineage through Seidokan, Corky Sensei was awarded the rank of Shodan in 1994 by Don O’Bell Sensei.

Corky Sensei  benefitted from training with various teachers, particularly the late Kanshu Sunadomari Shihan before abandoning technique practice in 2004  to develop a martially sound yet truly nonviolent, ukemi based teaching model he calls “Aiki-Lab.”

Using authentic attack energy rather than collusive ukemi, Corky Sensei has designed Aiki-Lab to bring beginners and advanced practitioners to Takemusu Aiki through the embodiment of beneficent intention.  Takemusu Aiki is Aikido that  spontaneously manifests without set forms, and was said by O’Sensei to be the highest ideal of the art of Aikido.

At present, Corky Quakenbush Sensei is the chief instructor of Kakushi Toride Aikido.

(Please also see: “Should Aikido be Effective?“)

Let go and Let’s Go

let go let's go

We have worn a rut in doing routine.
But there is more out there
To be learned and explored.
We don’t know.
We don’t know.

And so we clutch at straws to Life,
Gathering mementos that remind us of happier times.
We cling to the familiar, close and dear;
Foregoing chances for the unknown
to make themselves known.
Maybe in fear.
Maybe in sloth.

There lies the horizon,
Drawing our gaze, calling to our wild inner selves:
Let go the straws,
Let go the familiar,
The way back to it, you already know.
Let’s go!

The future teems with all that can be.
All possibilities spread out before you.

Let go your ego.
Let go and let’s go!

Austerity

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Simplicity
To minimize the complexities of living.

Regarding procedures and processes:
To achieve an effect as efficiently as possible,
Using the least material, expending the least effort.

Regarding how to state the facts:
To say it in the clearest, most direct manner.

What is the frugality and wisdom of living a simple life?
Does it mean not enjoying the finer things in life?
Does it mean not employing the subtleties
of human behavior and interaction?
Or does it mean learning to live without
the added burdens of the unneeded, The un-necessary?

Is it possible to be austere yet happy and content?
To pare down everything to the basics.

Regarding material things:
Is it a necessity?
Is it a luxury?
What do we pare away?
In your heart, you will know:
What can stay
and what
can
go.

Only Hope Left

Please

He cried alone
behind a closed door.
This boy listens to everyone
yet speaks words
no one hears-

She cried alone
behind a closed door.
This plump girl with curly hair
and beautiful eyes
no one sees-

He cried alone
behind a closed door.
This man in debt who lost his job
and reputation because of lies
everyone believed-

She cried alone
behind a closed door.
This woman has lost her husband
to someone younger with fuller breasts;
he only loved her youth-

They made him
a liar.
They made her
ugly.
They made him
incompetent.
They made her
unworthy.

Please.
Help.
Rescue them.
Help rescue us.

My Hope,
You’re the only one left.

Please, save now…

(Please also see: “Cry “Wolf” !“)

An exercise in “W”

w

What War does not wreak havoc
on this World of men
Wantonly wanting more space, more water, more land?
What war leaves widows wailing on the parched sand,
Blood-stained by husbands, brothers, daughters and sons?

What War leaves wandering orphans
Waiting for parents who will never come home?
With Wondering eyes no longer innocent,
But old and tired and robbed of Will?
What Written Word can Wrest a Peace from War-torn kingdoms
Shred by Greed and Evil-ness, indeed?

Forge on ahead, grieving widows and wives,
The Woman is the key to land and home.
Lay Waste a World of War and choose, instead,
By sheer force of Will, a World of Peace.

(Please also see: “Youth“)

Youth

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-1-

Smile.
Just love.
Be steadfast in believing,
Remain hopeful,
Remain patient,
Patience
To wait,
and Perseverance,
Continuous determination.
Remain in the arms of
A dream.
Joy and Peace
are the rewards
of long-suffering.

-2-

There is a big difference
In loving because of
Need and;
When you Need
Because of Love.
The former blossoms
from a shattered heart-
Avaricious,
Alone, and afraid;
the latter is of
A hopeful heart
that loves
through faith and
can only see the possibilities.

-3-

A bird that has wings
Can fly.
Fly.
God is
with
you.

-4-

Written tears
Express the truths
of the heart.

(Please also see: “Without“)

The Sword of the Tongue

StopWords are powerful aren’t they? Especially if they come from people important. Be it good or bad, sensitive or tactless, pleasant or spiteful; there is a lot of meaning in words, especially if they are true but even if they are not. No one can really see minds and hearts if the mouth is silent. All that can be done in silence is to predict, assume, or let go. The only way our intentions come across are through what we express. It has been said that actions speak louder than words. Still, this doesn’t mean words don’t speak at all.

 I can tell anyone anything and they can choose to believe me or not. However, when the words that come out of my mouth are hurtful swords, they can slice through flesh and heart and bone; regardless of their truth. There’s nothing anyone can do about words when they are spoken like this precisely because they are words- the quantifiable expression of the mind and the heart that can be understood by anyone. They become clear as day.

What hurts most are sword words that are laced with poison.

In themselves, they pierce the heart, but along with the immediate sting, they also carry a slow and deep burn. These words carry the poison of insensitivity, of condescension, of betrayal, of untruth. Poison eats and kills from the inside. The disdain that a person can drench his or her words with can turn even the sturdiest of hearts into rubble, pulverizing each attempt to reason with words heard because the clarity in the tone and tempo upon which they are spoken betrays any hope for misinterpretation. What has been said can never be unsaid.

In lashing out before thinking, we can accuse guilt on the innocent. We can spit on the face of the other. We can pour filth over the pure. Even if the words we say are true, it doesn’t mean saying them is right. Hurtful words, insensitive words, malicious words, even the absence of words when they matter– these can really hack through the heart; especially if they are spoken by someone we trust and love. These words can crush the soul.

wordsWhat words will you choose to say?

Words can kill but they can also bring life.  There is great power in the tongue.  Should we speak to butcher hearts or to mend them? Will we declare words to put others down or to lift them up? Will we use our tongue to kill or to bring life? The way we choose our words matter.

Self-control begins and ends with the mouth. If you have been bullied, it doesn’t justify you bullying others as well. That would be like poisoning others because you have been poisoned once before.

We can speak to destroy or to build.

I hope people start listening to what they will say, before they say anything. Words can wage war or bring about peace. Blessing and cursing is within the power of the tongue.

___________________________________________

“They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows… The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” -Bible

(Please also see: “Idealism and Reality: On Falling Short and Cherishing our Humanity“)